Tom Fisher House

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Tom Fisher House is a new acute homeless night shelter in the inner-city suburb of Mount Lawley. The 10-bed shelter provides chronically homeless people with safe and supervised overnight accommodation, support services, ablution and kitchen facilities, and basic first aid.

In order to maintain an anonymous address, away from public scrutiny, and to allay the fears of nervous neighbours, Tom Fisher House sits at the back of the block, behind a non-descript commercial building, also designed by us.

Planning developed through an intensive process of briefing and questioning to get an insight into both the needs of the consumers and the challenges for staff.

Ten bedrooms – each with ensuite, including two doubles – line the south-eastern boundary, with administration and support services on the other side of the communal spaces that sit between. It is in these spaces that we sought to exploit the opportunities for light and volume afforded by the reinterpretation of a saw tooth roof.

The staged entry sequence to the building is internally focused and allows for secure triage upon arrival. The interior is both warm and light, with open views at both ends providing visual relief but also a sense of security and safety. Within the covered outdoor courtyards there are a range of spaces, including custom-designed dog kennels, a fireplace and even a space to sleep outside if this is the preference.

In this project we sought to expand the brief and seek out spaces in which people can connect. The need for shelter is critical but so is providing a place to be welcomed with dignity and without judgement.